Penny J Kendall | Christian Life Coach » Empowering God's Women to Live ON MISSION

Masthead header

Many years ago, when my husband and I were first married, we attended a weekend retreat that was designed to strengthen our marriage through better communication and understanding. It’s been more than 30 years since that weekend but I’ll always remember a very important thing that we learned there …

Feelings are NEITHER RIGHT OR WRONG ~ they just ARE

… and when communicating our feelings in a productive and honoring way, our marriages are strengthened rather than torn down.

5 Keys to Showing Honor in Conflict

All relationships, no matter how intimate, are bound to encounter conflict and sadly, feelings are bound to be hurt. Communicating our hurts is not always easy and resolving the breakdown of our relationships because of those hurts can sometimes feel monumental. When a once intimate relationship suffers enough conflict, it is a natural response for one or both involved to withdraw their heart from the other. Tending to the conflicts in their early stages is essential in the prevention of this withdrawal and the inevitable loss of relationship. While it may seem that the heart of peace would push offenses/issues aside or that it would simply ignore the feelings that accompany those issues, the opposite is actually true. When hurts or frustrations are harbored, irritations mount, and relationship begins to break down, something must be done to repair it. The true nature of peacemaking is about doing what is necessary to fix what is broken.

I am not an expert on the subject of conflict resolution. I wish I were. I wish that I could say that every conflict that I’ve tried to resolve has turned out exactly the way I wanted it to … or that God wanted it to. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always worked out that way.

Even so, the God-principles of restoring relationship remain; the Father has given a number of clear directives in His word for resolving disagreements that come between His people and done His way, can yield Holy results.

Where do we begin?

The keys to resolving conflict in any relationship must start with an all important truth: that the relationship is valued enough to do whatever it takes to mend the brokenness that has been created.

For true Godly healing to take place while dealing with the issues at hand, honoring one another (valuing, respecting and holding in high esteem) must be held in the forefront at all times.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Phil 2:3

How Do We Show Honor in Conflict?

1.    Go and Tell Them ~ not others

If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. Matthew 18:15 (The Message)

2.    Invite the Holy Spirit into the conversation through prayer and surrender before you begin sharing.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

3.  Assume the Positive ~ Assume that intentions are pure, even though feelings may be hurt, hearts may be tender, or frustrations may have mounted.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

When meeting together, consider trying this: lay both of your hands palms up, one on each of your knees, as you share with one another. This posture creates an open-hearted stance and prevents angry gestures such as clenching of fists, flailing arms, pointing fingers, etc.

4.  Pour Love and Grace on One Another ~ realizing that God’s grace is abundant in the midst of our imperfections, be willing to pour grace on each other and their imperfections.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:18

5 . With HUMILITY, be willing to hear, as well as share ~ Valuing one another and honoring each other even in the most difficult moments means being open to receive words of challenge as much as you are willing to share them.

Remember: your ultimate desire is to restore your relationship because your relationship is worth it, not as a way or forum to express anger.

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19, 20

When SHARING your hurts with others ~

  • Remain calm and kind.
  • Share how you ‘feel as a result of the actions of the other (i.e., share S.A.S.H.E.T. of emotions ~ Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, Tender, using phrases like “when you do that, I feel…” rather than “you are…”).
  • Resist judging motives, hearts, or making accusations of ‘why’ you think the actions occurred ie “you did that because …”.
  • Stay focused on the issue at hand, not being tempted to bring up old wounds and offenses that are irrelevant to the resolution of this issue.
  • Share Needs/Wants ~ What needs do you have that aren’t being met in this situation? What do you need from the person you are sharing with? What do you want from that person in order to move forward?
  • Be willing to hear the response of the one you’ve shared with and ready to accept a new perspective of the situation, if needed. Consider the possibility that there may be reasons beyond your understanding that may have caused the hurtful actions and be ready to accept a new way of seeing things that will help you move forward.
  • Ask for/Offer Forgiveness ~ Leave the conversation with a willingness to forgive one another, put the matter to rest, and to move forward in love and a deeper awareness.

When HEARING the hurts of others ~

  • Remain calm and kind.
  • Be a good listener and do not interrupt the one sharing.
  • Receive the shared ‘feelings’ as neither right or wrong.
  • Be willing to give a loving response to the things shared; ask good questions, repeat what you believe you heard, clarify meaning of what is shared, and then lovingly respond or explain your perspective on the situation, if needed.
  • Take ownership of the areas of your behavior that are needed. Be open and willing to adjust or change whatever actions you have been made aware of that are/may have been hurtful, offering what is needed to heal the heart of others and to restore your relationship.
  • Ask for/Offer Forgiveness ~ Leave the conversation with a willingness to forgive one another, put the matter to rest, and to move forward in love and a deeper awareness.

David Augsberger in his book, Caring Enough to Confront, calls this idea of honoring one another in conflict ~ CARE-Fronting. I love this word picture.

Care-fronting is offering genuine caring that lifts, supports and encourages the other ~ To care is to bid another to grow, to welcome, invite and support growth in another.

Care-fronting is being upfront with important facts that can call out new awareness, insight and understanding. To confront effectively is to offer the maximum of useful information with the minimum of threat and stress.

Care-fronting is a loving and level conversation. It unites the love one has for the other with the honest truth that I am able to see about the two of us. Care-fronting unifies concern for relationship with concerns for goals—my goals, your goals, our goals; so one can have something to stand for (goals) as well as someone to stand with (relationship) without sacrificing one for the other or collapsing one into another. This allows each of us to be genuinely loving without giving away one’s power to think, choose and act. In such honesty, one can love powerfully and be powerfully loving. These are not contradictory. They are complementary. The opposite is to express powerless love until anger erupts in loveless power—to yield in pseudo-love until one overloads to the breaking point and then explode with demands heated to the boiling point.

Satan is a trouble-maker and a liar. Sometimes he tries to convince us that conflict is best handled by venting our frustrations to others, talking about someone behind their back (or on social media), sending out letters to complain about them or simply refusing to speak to them any more. He wants our God-given relationships to fail miserably and when we deal with conflict his way, he wins.

Oh sweet sisters, I pray that when facing conflict in our marriages, families or friendships, we stand firm and not let him have a foot-hold.

May God give us strength to stand up against the influences of the world and to … CARE-Front; remembering to honor one another in the way we share and hear the hurts that exist.

May we be true peacemakers, Jesus-focused and grace-filled binders of broken hearts; fixers of what is broken!

Simply put … my life can sometimes feel a bit crazy!

A few years ago a friend of mine taught me how to make a crazy quilt. These kind of quilts date back to the Victorian Era. This is a technique in quilt-making where irregularly-shaped pieces of fabric are sewn together to form a collage of colors and textures. These pieces of fabric often came from garments used for special events i.e., birthdays, christenings, weddings … and even deaths. When the piecing together was finished, all kinds of embroidery and embellishments like lace, charms, and buttons were added to create a beautiful display of their history and their memories.

Life as a Crazy Quilt | Penny J. Kendall, Life Coach

I have to say I wasn’t always fond of this kind of quilting. I am not really a Crazy Quilt kind of girl … I fit more into the patchwork genre. Crazy quilts seemed to be too haphazard; placing all different colored pieces here and there to get a mixed-together design. I like the patchwork quilts where you cut each piece perfectly, line them all up perfectly, stitch them together with exactly the same size seams and they come together to form a perfect design. This fits my personality better. I kind of like things to be lined up perfectly. [I know, I know … some of you already knew that about me — smile].

However, now I am in love with the idea of the Crazy Quilt and I find myself mesmerized with the spiritual lessons that they teach.

I realize that no matter how much I’d like to have the ‘pieces’ of my life all lined up perfectly, life just doesn’t happen that way.

The truth is — my life IS crazy.

Our lives are full of irregularly-shaped pieces; some are beautiful and some are not … some are bright and some are dark … some are impressive and some are ordinary … some are crisp and new, and some are tattered and worn out.  God, in His unfailing love, takes those irregularly-shaped pieces and places them together just the way He wants them, adds all kinds of beautiful embellishments in the form of joys and blessings, and creates out of our mixed-up lives, a wonderful collage … a masterpiece that He calls His creation.

‘He paints us as with a needle, like a garment of needlework, of diverse colors, richly embroidered’

When I try to see through God’s eyes, I can’t help then but be thankful for the crazy quilt I am becoming. Sometimes mine seems a little crazier than I’d like but in God’s hands, He says I am becoming a  masterpiece, “a display of His splendor” (Isaiah 61:3). What’s even better is that we get to ‘become’ together.

Paul implored Titus in Titus 2:3-4 to:

Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live … to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

As a younger woman, I desperately sought out the ones whom I could sit at the feet of and gain the understanding and insight that is spoken of in Titus 2. It seemed those who were willing were few and far between … and to be honest, I was often a bit intimidated by the ones I looked up to with great respect. It’s true that time does fly and it didn’t seem long before I began to realize that I was not only a younger woman who needed a Godly mentor but also an older woman who was called to be one. Okay, can I be honest again?  The thought of that is a little intimidating too!

I am a mom of 6 and presently, a grandmother of 10. I have a lot of experience but I am not an expert at child rearing … at least one of my children, at any given time,  would gladly confirm that. I am the wife of a missionary/minister but if you put me on a pedestal I will break like glass when I fall off of it … and I WILL fall off of it. I am a Life Coach and Mentor but I often need coaching and mentoring myself. I was once a professional photographer but I’ve taken as many bad photographs as I’ve taken good ones. I am a faithful woman of God but I sometimes struggle with that ‘gentle and quiet spirit’ command. I have a type-A personality, like my ducks in a row, and strive to do things with excellence, however, you should see my house some days. Seriously!

I do okay but I’m far from having it all together. I’ve made as many mistakes as I have had successes … and I’ve learned a lot from both. I know that God must get frustrated with me on a daily basis … yet … he still loves me, cares for me and works on me. I am an imperfect older woman being made into a masterpiece by a perfect God. Only HE can make something beautiful out of the mess I’ve made on my own and I’m so thankful He loves me enough to go to so much trouble!

My prayer is that no matter how old any of us become, we will continue to grow in God’s grace because until the day the Lord takes us home we are never at a place where we shouldn’t be teachable.

Lord, give me a humble heart and help me to be teachable! Give me what I need to become the masterpiece you intend me to be. 

I’d love to come along-side you as YOU become the masterpiece He intends you to be. Feel free to drop me a note via the contact link on this website or pop on over to Facebook and leave a comment there.

I look forward to hearing from you!

I was one of those home-school pioneers.

I began my home-schooling career in the early 80’s before it was accepted by more than a few and while it was still outlawed in several states. When I embarked on my adventure, there was only one textbook publishing company who supported those interested in teaching their own children or would even sell a curriculum guide to help us through the process.  There were no home-school conferences, home-school support groups or home-school resources.  Our little group just plowed the field as we went.

Our Home: God

Being the ‘fit inside of the box’ type of person that I am (or at least was), I set out to make my home-school a miniature public school as was expected at that time. If my school curriculum guide told me to make 100 flash cards, I made 100 flash cards. If it said to read to my child out of the reader for 12.3 minutes, ask 14 questions and make my child do 25 worksheets for review … that is what I did. Whatever it said to do, I did it. I wanted to do it right {and I confess, I wanted to prove to all those who thought I was depriving my children the most important things in life, that they were wrong}. I was the home-school poster mom. I was committed and I did it all … for a time.

Throughout the 23+ years that I schooled my 6 children at home, I continued to hold to some of the structure that I had employed at the beginning. It was important for my concentration to start each school day with a clean house … we always had a school room {though sometimes our school room was also the dining room}, a time schedule and lessons planned. Those weren’t bad things; they helped me to be more efficient and to get more things done. It was obviously important to teach my children all the academic things that needed to be taught. However, sometimes that need for structure and the pressure to get all the expected things done {in addition to nursing babies, wrangling toddlers, and running my household} made me one stressed-out mamma. In my desire to do it right, it was sometimes easy to get caught up in the ‘how’ of homeschooling and forget the ‘why’. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t live up … and I got really tired and discouraged and burned out.

As I look back on those years, I realize that God began to teach ME as many important lessons as I was attempting to teach my children.  He taught me that sometimes His lesson plans were different than mine; that though my teaching ideas were duly noted ~ it was GOD’S Classroom, not mine. He taught me that a lesson on fractions can often be better learned while making cookies or bread to take to a widow down the street, than by filling out a worksheet. And He taught me that music theory can sometimes be better understood while singing to a crying baby whose mom had abandoned him, than by doing rote exercises on the piano. He taught me that an interrupted schedule wasn’t important at all in comparison to relationships formed with a ‘Granny’ sewing or a ‘Papaw’ fishing.

While I knew it was important to use our home to teach such things as Godly devotion, love, character, heritage, family (no matter what), sacrifice, and forgiveness, I would still too often have to be reminded that these things are very seldom taught from a textbook.

It never seemed to fail that when I’d get bogged down in meeting the world’s expectation of what my ‘school’ should look like, God would inevitably send me a day chock full of interruptions, upset schedules, and extra needs to be met.

Those crazy days were the days that I learned to smile at and simply mark in my lesson plans … GOD’s Classroom. Now, when I look at my grown children and their children … I am confident those were the best lessons of all.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

 

“There is nothing more precious than a grateful child

… the opposite is also true”

This is one of the ‘isms’ we adopted in our home as we raised our six children. I came to realize over the course of our child rearing and our ministry how important the idea of gratefulness was and continues to be. Ungratefulness can play a pretty major role in un-pleasant attitudes; rebellion, pride, anger, unrealistic expectations, selfishness, and so many more.

Nothing More Precious | Penny J Kendall

As for me … even though I know that my motive for serving others should not be to receive thanks, I just want to do more for those who are thankful. The truth is I like to be appreciated. I think God likes to be appreciated too! So much so that there are close to 150 references to praise and thanks in the NIV version of the bible.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul talks about how foolish ungrateful men can be.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him nor gave thanks to him but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claim to be wise, they became fools  — Romans 1:21, 22

He talks about the blessings around them that they could easily see, but didn’t. According to this passage in The Message, he says that failing to be thankful lead to confusion and silliness without direction in their lives.

For several years, I have kept a little notebook that I call my Gratefulness Journal’. In my little book, I keep a running list of the simple, everyday blessings and gifts that make my cup overflow; the things that make me smile. When my 21-year-old son died in Iraq in 2006, doing this kept me from despair as Satan tried to convince me there were no blessings for my hurting heart; that God had abandoned me. Doing it now helps me to see what I might otherwise miss. It  continues to remind me that the fingerprints of His love are all around me.  There is no confusion … my God is near!

100 of the Simple Blessings I am grateful for …

  • Grand-baby giggles
  • Hunting for tiny seashells along beaches of the South China Sea
  • Friends to drink coffee with
  • Antique tea cups
  • Long, hot showers
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Singing Capella with Christians
  • Clean sheets
  • Having an electric washer/dryer
  • Handmade quilts
  • ‘Grammy of the Year’ award that Ethan made for me
  • When my children give God glory by their actions & reactions
  • Tea parties with granddaughters
  • Sitting on my porch while it’s raining
  • Email
  • Weekend get-aways with good friends
  • Shopping in the open market in Russia and Estonia
  • The anticipation of heavenly reunions
  • Hikes into the Estonian forest with precious friends
  • Friends all across the world
  • The ability to freeze memories in photographs
  • Hearing Kayli sing
  • Serving on purpose, for a purpose
  • Antique malls
  • Hearing my grand-babies say my name
  • Seeing old friends and laughing over old times
  • Reflections on the lake
  • Ziploc bags
  • My bible
  • Having extra money to help people
  • Trips to foreign places
  • Beautiful needlework from foreign lands
  • Visions, dreams and fulfillment of dreams!
  • Victory over the ‘giants’ who try to obstruct the dreams
  • Beautiful sunsets
  • Making ‘Maple Twists’ as a family at the holidays
  • Watching God orchestrate the circumstances of my life
  • God’s opening a window after closing a door
  • Fields of bluebonnets in spring
  • For my husband who brings me coffee in bed every morning, kisses me on the forehead and tells me he loves me.
  • Technology that allows me to keep in touch with my treasured ones
  • M & M’s … especially the red ones
  • Airplanes that take me to amazing places and precious people
  • Watching birds play in the trees after it rains
  • Hugs
  • Rubbermaid disposable containers
  • Boxes and baskets for organizing
  • Singing Praises with our students from all over SE Asia
  • Running in the rain
  • Palm Trees and Tropical weather
  • The garden after it rains
  • Watching it snow from my kitchen window
  • Sleepless in Seattle” ~ one of my all-time favorite movies
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • The friends who came from far and wide to attend Dustin’s funeral
  • The florist who delivers flowers to Dustin’s grave and sends me a photo every time
  • The sweet man who lovingly cares for Dustin’s grave and writes me to tell me he’s prayed over him
  • Puppy kisses
  • Watching my girls become wonderful mommies
  • That God’s ways are not my ways
  • Kayli’s and Jared’s humor … how they keep me laughing
  • Making it through the hard times together
  • For family … no matter what
  • A bubble bath after a long day
  • Empowering women to become all that God wants them to be
  • Text messages
  • The smell of fresh towels just out of the dryer
  • My amazing daughters who are all very talented and beautiful – inside and out.
  • My son who is a servant to a fault {like his dad}
  • Laughing so hard that tears roll down your cheeks
  • Standing at the top of ‘Enchanted Rock’ and seeing God’s amazing creation
  • Letters from Boot Camp
  • The tiny hands of all my grandchildren
  • Being debt free
  • My sweet and Godly daughter-in-law
  • Long time friends
  • Pedicures and foot massages
  • Walking along the river with sweet friends in Russia
  • Speaking in a foreign language and being understood (sort of)
  • Encouraging notes and comments on Facebook
  • Soaking up God’s Word
  • Sharing our ‘Clown Ministry’ with the orphans in Estonia
  • Snow-capped mountains
  • Experiencing new cultures
  • Knowing I’m not alone
  • Girl talk
  • Quilting retreats with old friends and new ones
  • “I Will Praise Him in the Storm” ~ Song by Casting Crowns
  • Godly Son-in-Laws and my son-in-law to be
  • Journals that help me remember answered prayers
  • Old buttons and lace
  • Coconut Milk in Coffee
  • Pencils with erasers
  • Days with erasers
  • It is Well With My Soul
  • Late night talks with old friends over a game of Canasta
  • Being married to my best friend
  • Gumbo — made in the big yellow pot
  • Walking on the beach at night with my sweetie
  • CHRIST → THE CROSS → HEAVEN

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common everyday blessings of our common, everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

As God often does, He called us to surrender to a new plan some 20 years ago and our journeys around the world began. We have been privileged to travel and live in many amazing places. We are now making our home in SE Asia, doing what we believe we’ve been called to do — having met so many wonderful but different people over the years and having learned so much. My blessings overflow!

As I ponder the experiences and people that I’ve been blessed with over the span of our ministry, I’m impressed by one constant that transcends culture or location. We have ALL been discouraged, hurt and broken though we may not always voice it out loud. No matter who we are or where we are from, we ALL need to be lifted up and loved, no matter what!

Please Listen to What I

Years ago (really … A LOT of YEARS ago) as a high school student, my creative writing teacher shared this anonymous but profound piece. I’ll never forget how I related to it then … or how I relate to it now. What about you – does it resonate in your heart as well?

 Please Listen to what I’m NOT Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks –
masks that I’m afraid to take off — and none of them are me.
 
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me
But don’t be fooled, for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
– within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command,
and that I need no one.
But don’t believe me. Please — don’t believe me!
 
My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me — in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this.
I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weaknesses
and fear exposing them.
 
That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.
They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
my only salvation,
and I know it.
That is … if it’s followed by acceptance,
and if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls
from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
That glance from you is the only thing that assures me
of what I can’t assure myself,
– that I’m really worth something.
 
But I don’t tell you this.
I don’t dare.
I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh
– and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good
– and you will see this
and reject me.
 
So … I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a facade of assurance without
And a trembling child within.
So begins the parade of masks,
The glittering but empty parade of masks,
And my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s nothing
And nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.
So … when I’m going through my routine
Do not be fooled by what I’m saying,
 

Please listen carefully

and try to hear what I’m not saying.

 
Hear what I’d like to say
but what I can not say.
 
I dislike hiding.
Honestly I do.
I dislike the superficial game I’m playing,
the superficial phony game.
I’d really like to be genuine
– and me.
But I need your help, your hand to hold
Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.
 
It will not be easy for you.
Long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
The blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
 
You wonder who I am?
 

I am every man you meet

And … every woman you meet

 
Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.
 

May we look into the eyes of those we meet … and hear more than what they are saying. May we see through the eyes of our Father who looks into the heart of those He loves … and hear what they are NOT saying.